How to find authentic goods?
November 3, 2009 9:16 PM   Subscribe

Looking to buy a WW2 ring. Help me not get scammed on eBay.

(Anonymous because this is going to be a surprise, and the gift-receiver is a sneak)

I'm planning on proposing to my long-time boyfriend some time in the next year, and I'd like to get him a ring. Since he's a history buff, I figured a German WW2 ring would be an awesome choice. Ebay has piles and piles of Todkopf rings, but I'm looking for something a little more subtle; something from a Panzer team would be great, but I'll consider anything that's not just a giant cross/swastika/skull. I've come across these two which are particularly nice. Too nice, I guess. Although they're being sold from different accounts, both accounts are in Latvia, and the listings are suspiciously similar. "100% original old! Solid and presentable appearance is suitable for a man’s collection." But both accounts have good feedback. For what it's worth, I know absolutely nothing about period jewelry, so I likely wouldn't recognize a fake if I held it in my hand. So here are my questions:

1. Am I right in thinking that these listings are a little shady?
2. Are there any policies in place to handle falsely advertised items; if the item arrives and it's not authentic, do I have any recourse aside from leaving a negative review?
3. Where else can one look for authentic military artifacts?

Throwaway email: Thanks in advance for any help!
posted by anonymous to Shopping (9 answers total)
The first one has a policy that I would be comfortable with; I didn't read over the second one. Buy with your credit card (I can't stress this enough) and get it appraised immediately. If it turns out to be fake, simply notify the seller and send it back. Your credit card company will have your back if they attempt to jip you.
posted by Sufi at 10:33 PM on November 3, 2009

I'd ask a web board full of people who are nuts about this stuff how to go about it. You can ask the sellers you've found to send you the right pictures so that experts can tell you beforehand.
posted by rhizome at 11:06 PM on November 3, 2009

Hi there.

I work with counterfeits on ebay (and am an IP Lawyer) ... so ... with that said.

Best guess ... Both fake.

Look at sellers other items ... this is all they do ... so they are a dealer? But for old authentic items they all look very new. And there is unusual price variations between similar products (in that there isn't ... for older items price should reflect scarcity).

But ... the killer is that the feedback is set to private ... this is a big tip off ... honest eBayers don't ever set their feedback to private.

And, yes, both sellers appear to be the same person.

Unless you are knowledgeable about the rare/unique items you purchase, eBay is not a great forum ... lots of counterfeits and return/refund policies can be difficult and time consuming (Paypal ain't fun if you want your money back). Generally not worth the hassle.

If you want authentic items go to a coin and medal shop and ask.

posted by jannw at 11:18 PM on November 3, 2009 [3 favorites]

Oh Jesus... don't buy stuff like this on eBay. Those are both fake, fake, fake. The guy in the first auction at no point says that it's an antique. And then he goes on to say that you'll essentially need to show "proof" that it's fake--no friend, no guy in the internet. So, what, you're going to spend $50 on a ring, and then get it appraised by a recognized expert in the field within three days. Pffft... bullshit.

And they're definitely the same seller.

Find a local dealer.

And expect to pay for it. I expect that they're really quite rare, given the prohibitions on Nazi- and WWII-related symbolism and gear in West and unified Germany.
posted by Netzapper at 12:57 AM on November 4, 2009

Regardless of whether they're fake or not, there is a question you do not seem to have considered:

Is your boyfriend likely to be comfortable wearing Nazi paraphernalia?

I can understand why the rings appeal in an abstract sense (old, look cool, sorta linked to his hobby) but you have to realise that for many of us wearing something like this will mark you out as a fascist, and here in Europe, we're very touchy about that sort of thing. If you're comfortable with taking the thing off whenever you are in sensitive company (or, yanno, if you ever choose to visit Europe) then hell yeah go ahead, but be ready to be (mis) perceived as a nazi sympathiser.
posted by handee at 1:39 AM on November 4, 2009 [5 favorites]

Something like that would make an excellent gift for a history buff, but not these probable fake ones from a certainly scammy dealer.

As an addendum to handee's comment, not only should such rings not be brought to Europe, it is illegal to display them publicly (i.e. wear them) in a number of European countries - certainly Germany, Poland and Hungary, and possibly France as well. In theory (although I doubt they would be so heavy-handed in practice), this offence could carry a prison sentence of 2 or 3 years.

Bit of a derail (sorry mods!) - just something you might want to be aware of if you buy such things and you travel a lot.

posted by idiomatika at 2:14 AM on November 4, 2009 [1 favorite]

They're both fake. Find a reputable dealer online, but off ebay - there are a lot. Don't buy WW2 memorabilia from Eastern Europe on eBay. A lot of stuff is still being dug up there, but yet more - much more - is being faked.
posted by fire&wings at 2:32 AM on November 4, 2009

Couldn't you think of some other kind of historic gift? Buying something that has even a whiff of that provenance makes my blood run cold. Maybe some sports-related antique ring? Maybe something made specifically for him?
posted by WyoWhy at 4:43 AM on November 4, 2009 [1 favorite]

Allow me to point you to this previous question on AskMeta. Look at the first marked Best Answer. The British Victory Ring could be right down your alley, seeing as both the men in question were history buffs, and possibly easier to find and less expensive.

Hope this helps!

- Bill
posted by willmize at 5:44 AM on November 4, 2009

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